Real Madrid denied Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final twice in three years, as they defeated their city rivals on penalties at San Siro to be the winners of 2015/16 Champions League winners.
Los Rojiblancos started nervously, and within 34 seconds referee Mark Clattenburg already had to blow on his whistle as Koke delivered a late challenge on Casemiro.
Not much later, another cheap foul allowed Real a Toni Kroos free kick. The German delivers to Bale who heads it further in, and Sergio Ramos makes the first goal with a simple a poke.
But after peep talk and possible reprimanding during the break, Atletico Madrid made a spirited comeback at the second half. They looked focused on the game even as Antoine Griezmann fired a penalty into the woodwork – and the sprints and counters eventually culminated with Yannick Carrasco’s equalizer.
Even Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo had to repeatedly drop back into midfield to help cut out the supply routes to Griezmann and Fernando Torres, while Karim Benzema also typified Real’s work rate by doing his defensive duties.
It was also likely that Atletico boss Diego Simeone wanted to change the game with Carrasco, substituting the offensive player with Augusto Fernandez. It paid off – Carrasco changed the game with his pace, and when a Juanfran cross found him in the six-yard box he jumped right to it and scored.
As he ran off to his girlfriend for a snog at the sidelines, his equalizer made it 1-1 on normal time, and dragged the game into a goalless extra time and subsequently, penalties.
Both teams converted their penalties up until Atletico’s fourth. Juanfran, who played well throughout the 120 minutes of the game, hits the woodwork as his shot went a few inches wide. With Ronaldo next in line, that mistake looked destined to be fatal, and it was.
And with that, Zinedine Zidane became the first person to win the Champions League as a player, an assistant coach and coach. All of those successes were gained alongside Real Madrid too, as the club claimed European dominance once more with undecima – their eleventh European top tier title triumph.
It was indeed regrettable for his city rivals, for less than three weeks ago Atletico looked primed for a double. But having finished three points behind champions Barcelona in Spain, they are left to reflect on what might have been despite an impressive second-half performance at the San Siro.
This may be the third time Atletico have reached the final of the top European tournament and failed to win but their future remains bright. Given his numerous success Simeone is likely to remain in charge next season despite earlier reported interest from Premier League clubs.
He will also need to be wary with his task of keeping Atletico’s assets, with Griezmann and midfielder Saul having been linked with moves to Chelsea and Manchester United respectively.